Things I’ll Miss About China: Weekends Away

Let the countdown begin! I’m planning to leave China in July after I finish grading my finals and my visa is up. I’ve been getting a little nostalgic, thinking back on all of the life-changing experiences I’ve had while living in China.

I am confident in my decision to leave and I’m really looking forward to living in the US again. However, I know that there are some things that I will really miss when I leave. Number one– weekends away.

I technically have a three-day work week. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I make the hour long commute to Chenggong, a suburb of Kunming, to teach at the university. For the rest of my week, I have to do some planning and grading, but I have copious amounts of free time. I’ve been trying to take advantage of my four day weekends by traveling or doing exciting things around Kunming and Yunnan.

Most recently, I went hiking with some friends and we stumbled upon a huge graveyard clinging to the side of a mountain. It just so happened to be the weekend before the Tomb Sweeping Festival (清明节), and there were hundreds of people celebrating the holiday with picnic lunches and offerings for their dearly departed.

Colorful flowers and food offerings dotting the graves

Colorful flowers and food offerings dotting the graves

I also took a half day hike with a Chinese friend on Long Bug Mountain (长虫山)in the center of Kunming that offered 360 views of the city (and a reminder of how out of shape I am).

Enjoying a break from the hike. This wasn't quite the top.

Enjoying a break from the hike. This wasn’t quite the top.

Pretty flowers and Kunming down below

Pretty flowers and Kunming down below

I decided to get a little bit off the beaten track and go for a solo weekend away to Nuodeng, a sleepy little village built into a hillside about three hours away from Dali (a tourist haven). I might write a longer post about this trip later. But for now, all you need to know is that I stayed in the most quaint little courtyard guesthouse with an elderly couple who cooked me delicious food and told stories about their ancient little town (that used to be famous for producing salt). On the way back I indulged in some shopping, microbrews and sightseeing around Dali.

Horses are still used as the main form of transportation around this steep little village

Horses are still used as the main form of transportation around this steep little village

My guesthouse owners were amazingly friendly and welcoming

My guesthouse owners were amazingly friendly and welcoming

Rocks and packed mud houses in Nuodeng

Rocks and packed mud houses in Nuodeng

Three Pagodas temple complex in Dali. The weather was phenomenal

Three Pagodas temple complex in Dali. The weather was phenomenal

Love this color combo, and the beautiful blue and white designs. When I get a house someday, can it look like this?

Love this color combo, and the beautiful blue and white designs. When I get a house someday, can it look like this?

For the Labor Day (May 1) holiday, pretty much all of my friends had off work/school so we decided to plan an out of town trip. Fuxian Spring Break 2013 was a welcome respite from our lives in the city. The lake is one of the deepest (and cleanest) in China, which makes the water refreshingly cold and perfect for swimming. Armed with inflatable tubes, a huge sheet to spread out on the beach and a rugby ball, football, soccer ball, volleyball and frisbee… we were good to go. The three-day trip consisted of lots of beach time (and some sunburn), boys vs. girls beach volleyball, a boat ride turned water fight,  cuddles/massages and plenty of good times with friends.

A few of the guys getting sunscreened up before going in the water

A few of the guys getting sunscreened up before going in the water

We're on a boat! (Four people could pedal at a time, the other five just got to sit and enjoy the ride.)

We’re on a boat! (Four people could pedal at a time, the other five just got to sit and enjoy the ride.)

Land ahoy! Or is it chips ahoy?

Land ahoy! Or is it chips ahoy?

A semi-spontaneous trip to the Mi Le (弥勒)hot springs was in order because my friend and former roommate Jess was in town. The weather had been kind of cold and rainy, but we figured that could be the perfect weather for a day at the spa! After a three hour bus ride from Kunming, we arrived at the Five Star (?) HuQuan Hotel (湖泉酒店)and immidiately started giggling with excitement. There were plenty of pools (of varying “flavors” and colors) and not very many people.

We're going to come back when it's warm to swim in the swimming pools.

We’re going to come back when it’s warm to swim in the swimming pools.

Great Chinglish!

Great Chinglish!

I’ll try to add more pictures when I get them from friends.

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6 thoughts on “Things I’ll Miss About China: Weekends Away

  1. Great trip. Thanks for taking me along. Loved the pictures and your comments so felt like I was right there with you. Sending my love.

  2. No matter where you go you find the most charming things to tell and pictures to take. Hope you have more on Nuodeng, it looks ancient! Love it all.
    Aunt Anne

  3. As always, great seeing things through your eyes! Must admit, the sign at the end made me giggle.

  4. @lanicox Not sure where I’m headed yet…. Somewhere in the US! Most of these photos were taken with my iPhone, I’m surprised they came out so well.

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